As days get shorter and the weather gets colder, Ohioans will be forced indoors —even many who spend their time exercising outside.
While the change in seasons makes it more challenging to stay active, experts told The Dispatch there are many ways people can ensure they keep moving through winter months and into spring.
“We know that people are less active in the winter in Columbus,” said Julie Wilkes, a local fitness expert and motivational coach. “In general (the weather is) less motivating for people.”
With that in mind, here’s how central Ohioans can stay active indoors as winter arrives.
Join a gym
One of the easiest ways to keep exercising when going outdoors isn’t an option is getting a gym membership.
The Pro’s Gym on Long Street Downtown offers workout opportunities for both experts and beginners, said Jephthah Lawson, operating manager. Newcomers won’t be alone either; Lawson said membership often jumps before the holidays as people get a head start on their New Year’s resolutions.
But, there’s more to working out than just shedding pounds, Lawson said.
“For one, it’s good for you … But it can also produce endorphins to help stave off seasonal effective disorder,” Lawson said. “So it can help you feel better emotionally as well.”
Cardio exercises, such as running, biking or walking, are important activities people should include in their workouts when joining a gym, Lawson said.
However, Lawson said people should be careful not to overdo it. He said he’s seen a lot of people who exercise too hard, too often and either end up injuring themselves or simply become too burnt out to keep going.
Lawson suggested meeting with a personal trainer a few times as a way to nail down a routine that isn’t overwhelming. Overall, people need to go easy on themselves, Lawson said.
“It’s always busy Monday and Tuesday because everyone feels guilty for what they did over the weekend,” Lawson said. “By the time Thursday rolls around half of people have overdone it. … When you’re first starting out you want to get your body used to the extra workload.”
Yoga, Pilates and dancing
An alternative to joining a gym this winter is enrolling in a class.
Between Pilates, dance classes and yoga, Seven Studios in Grandview Heights offers a wide variety of options, said its owner, Wilkes.
After the COVID-19 pandemic subsided, Wilkes said she reopened her studio with a plan to offer workouts that people can’t necessarily do at home. One of those offerings is trapeze yoga, during which participants use bands to hang above the ground and perform poses in the air.
There are several types of yoga classes available across the Columbus area and that means there’s something for almost everyone at any comfort level, Wilkes said.
If trying to do aerial poses seems nerve-wracking or intimidating, Wilkes said Seven Studios offers courses for beginners as well as relaxing classes geared toward meditation and unwinding. High-intensity classes are also available, she said.
Along with offering a good workout, Wilkes said yoga is an opportunity to connect with people and can go a long way toward improving someone’s mental health.
“(Yoga classes) create community and I think that’s one of the greatest things. … It’s great to see that kind of energy,” Wilkes said.
Get creative around the house
There are a ton of things people can do and use around their homes if they don’t want to invest in expensive workout equipment, said Tyler Yee, fitness lead at OhioHealth’s Neuroscience Wellness Center.
Tension bands, Yee said, are cheap and easy to purchase online and can be used in place of weights. Over the years, Yee joked that he’s seen people use everything from canned food to pots and pans in place of weights.
The best replacement for weights might be emptied laundry detergent jugs, Yee said. People can fill them up with water to whatever their desired weight is and the jugs offer easy to hold handles that people can use, he said.
“I think 2020 showed all of us that you can do a lot with a little and you can apply those same concepts when you don’t have a lot of time or resources,” Yee said.
Stairs can also be helpful for people trying to get in a workout at home, Yee said. Along with climbing stairs, Yee said they can be used to elevate someone while doing pushups or lunges.
If Ohioans who want to stay active are looking for something more specific to do at home, Yee suggested they consider joining an online fitness class.
There are a wide variety of at-home fitness classes available to people, including options from Apple, Fitbit and Peloton. Paying for a class can help motivate people to hold themselves accountable, Yee said.
Regardless, Yee said what’s most important is that people find a workout they look forward to.
“Set realistic expectations for yourself and make sure it’s something you enjoy,” Yee said. “That’s the biggest thing.”